Tuesday, September 1, 2015

From Pleasure to Work and Back Again

Opening new boxes of gear, getting vaccinations, researching different areas to learn to para-glide in India/Nepal, packing gear and visiting friends and family have been the happenings since finishing work 8 days ago. So before I get to caught up in India's rustle and bustle here is an update from my spring and summer.

After all the sweet sweet ice climbing in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia I traveled to Chamonix, France for a month of alpine climbing with James Monypenny were we climbed numerous long, fun routes and started planning for our trip to Pakistan.

 Photo by James Monypenny
James put in a huge amount of energy into this and we have received support from: Lowa, Mountain Equipment, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Gore-Tex, British Mountainerrin Council, Cilogear, and The Mount Everst Foundation. Thanks to all you for the support!!

After my return home from Chamonix I flew to Vancouver to meet up with Ashlie. We got in a few days of climbing in Squamish and then headed to the Yukon for a summer of work and play.

My first adventure was getting dropped off in Skagway AK by Ashlie and our friends Meredith and Chris. I then jumped on a ferry to Haines AK to meet up with Erik Bonnett for another trip into Koosdakhaa Spire. We headed in on May 18th, again via sky plane with Drake Olson, and on May 19th-20th we made a successful ascent of Koosdakhaa Spire. 
Our route was sustained 5.10-5.11 climbing for 14 pitches. It took us 33hours to reach the summit and another 5hours to get back to our camp. We named the route Otter Water Boogie Man 5.11- A1 V 600m. When spent a few days resting and then moved to another climbing objective. This time we climbed for 16hours and climbed a new route called Lichening Bolt Buttress 5.11- IV 400m. Shortly after we found ourselves descending to Skagway via the Nourse River Valley. The river was 

awesome! Sporting continuous class 2-3 & the random class 4 rapid for 30km to the Taiya River confluence and then into the ocean close to Skagway. We both were exceedingly happy with our trip especially after all the hard work we put in last year in this same area!!

Soon after our trip Erik headed back to California and I was in Whitehorse with Ashlie and getting ready for my first NOLS course of the summer. We hiked for 12 days in the Pelly Mountains and the paddled on the Finlayson and Frances Rivers to the community of Upper Liard. We covered 70km of hiking and 300km of canoeing. 

On our day off Jamie and I paddled the Tutshi River, which is the classic creek run outside Whitehorse. It was an awesome class 4-4+ run with good flows.... I have to say it was great to get back in a kayak!!
With my day off behind me I was back to work. This time getting ready for a 35day Mountaineering/Whitewater canoeing course. This is the first course of its type and I was happy to be apart of it! We traveled through the Logan Mountains just outside of Nahanni National Park for 70km over small pocket glaciers and climb numerous peaks. We then put on the Little Hyland/Hyland Rivers and paddled and lined our way 410km to the Alaska/Canadian Highway.
Once again, another incredible summer in Canada's Yukon Territory! We saw the northern lights, caught numerous fish, saw several moose and caribou, were bluff charged by a Grizzly and got to experience the moody weather the north offers year after year! Thanks to Evan, Sam, Arthur, Erik, Ashlie, Jamie and Kate for paddling awesome whitewater, portaging canoes, cooking awesome food, climbing a bunch pf rocks and sharing a tent for numerous days! And to all our students for working hard and having fun in one of the coolest places on Earth!

This Thrusday Ashlie and I will be off to India to meet up with James to start the move to the Karakorum. Ashlie will be stopping in Northern India to do a yoga teacher training and we will meet up there after James and I are finished climbing in Pakistan.

All photo's taken by Max Fisher unless otherwise noted.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Beta to some Maritime Treasure!

Luc Gallant climbing, what is known as, "the scariest thing I've done all day" crux when either going to or coming back from a day of climbing on the shores of Cape Chignecto Provincial Park NS.
I often write about my adventures and decided to change it up. Here is a guide I have put together of the Chignecto Peninsula of Nova Scotia and the Shepody Bay of New Brunswick. My goal is to motivate others to get out and explore these incredible areas of the Maritimes. Whether in the summer or winter it offers challenges for numerous abilities and disciplines.

Max close to topping out Simply Forgotten in Moose River NS. Photo by Luc Gallant

The guide focuses solely on ice and mixed climbing, that said Cape Chignecto Provincial Park NS has a 50km hiking trail that is well known in summer and miles of coast for mutli-day sea kayaking. Moose River NS is known to some for its mythical waterfalls in summer. Cape D'Or light house is a huge tourist attraction pulling numerous people from all over the world to NS. Joggins fossil cliffs are a UNESCO World Heritage site that attract tourists through the summer months. Dorchester Cape NB has an interpretative center about the breeding and migration of the Pipping Plover that nests on these beaches in early summer. Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick's most popular tourist attraction, is directly across from Dorchester Cape. Cape Maringouin is known amongst locals as a popular day hike.

There are numerous rivers in this area that have solid potential for whitewater kayaking, Bass River Five Islands and Folly River are excellent class 4-4+ runs and Moose River has also seem some exploration. There are numerous other valleys that hold potential for both kayaking and ice climbing exploration. To name a few would include: Diligent River, North River, Ramshead River, Fox River, Economy River, Chiganois River, the Harrington River and numerous others! Here is an old video from 2006 of whitewater kayaking in the Maritimes. Most of the footage is shot in the Cobequid area. https://vimeo.com/3706535

Max running Chiganois River Falls close to Truro, Nova Scotia.

Thanks to all the climbers that have taken part in climbing in these areas especially Greg Hughes and Luc Gallant for the sharing some incredible days! It has been one of my favorite winters exploring and adventuring in my backyard!

Luc Gallant on Can't Always be a Rock Star, Moose River NS.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Living in the Spirt Of!

From the summit of Cerro Zapata! Pinto and Grey Glaciers and Torres del Paine Parque National. Photo by Max Fisher
Well many fun times have happened since I finished the Kooshdakha Spire expedition with Erik Bonnett. I worked to NOLS Yukon courses that involved my days of canoeing, portaging and adventuring through the untrampelled lands on the Boreal forest and cordillera.
Canoe Expeditioning at its finest!
I made my way to Chilean Patagonia to work a full semester for NOLS, which involved mountaineering for 32days followed directly by 32days of sea kayaking...

Drinking mate admits a pretty solid wind and snow storm the ripped a Hilleberg Tent in half (behind a snow wall) and had us doing shovel shifts each hour to keep the snow from damaging our tents.
Students paddling on Seno Skiring. Due to weather and sea state we paddled 13 of 30 days. Take what Patagonia gives you! Photo by Max Fisher
so I spent 64 days with 16 wonderful people teaching and learning from them in one of the most special places in the world!
Lindsay Wiebold climbing Mandarin 5.9+ Cerro Agula, Aysen Patagonia. Photo by Max Fisher

In January, 2015 I boarded a plan to California to meet my lovely lady, Ashlie Ferguson. She picked me up and over the next 20 days slowly made our way to Sackville NB. The drive included numerous push starts of the 79 VW Westfalia
Mate Che? Photo by Ashlie Ferguson
(Oklahoma to NB), nude hot springs in Sierraville Cali, climbing in Yosemite (with Erik), Cold Stream Ice in Cali and Red Rocks Nevada.
Ashlie high on Bourbon Street 5.8+ 7 pitches Red Rocks Nevada. Photo by Max Fisher
I also turned 31 on this adventure. Since Ashlie and I arrived home there has been numerous days of ice climbing, skiing, exploring and a number of awesome snow storms!

Yosemite! Photo by Max Fisher
So many of these days stand out as wonderful and fun! Especially the company of the long drive and getting home visiting family and sharing beers with friends. But one more recently standouts out as a highlight... this day was February 13, 2015.

Sunset in the midwest... pretty beautiful! Photo by Max Fisher
Last year I headed out to Cape Chignecto Provincial Park with Greg Hughes and Mike Delaney and we climbed 2 awesome routes called High and Wild and Maritime Alpinism. Both of these where WI4 175m long with high quality climbing. Since that adventure I altered plans so that I would end up there again sooner rather then later. 
A picture from the first trip into Cape Chignecto Dec. 2013 Photo by Max Fisher
So on February 13 Lucas Toron, who is presently between work contracts, and I headed out to Cape Chignecto. To my knowledge there has only been 2 trips out to this zone, this would be the 3rd. We had perfect tides, low at 12:45, so in and out on the beach with a bit of 5th class shenanigans kept our feet dry. This also allowed use 4hrs to climb and hike out with little stress. We started hiking at 9:15am arrived at the base of our objective at 10:15am checked out conditions and started climbing around 10:45am.
Some tidal navigation shenanigans! Photo by Max Fisher
Shenanigans continues! Photo by Max Fisher
 Living in the Spirt Of M4R WI5- 200m, Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, Nova Scotia Photo by Max Fisher
Living in the Spirt Of M4R WI5- 200m, Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, Nova Scotia  

Pitch 1 M4R WI3 60m - The mixed climbing was super fun, having your focus is important because it's run-out, a bit loose and the crux isn't protected. The ice above the mixed section is thin and takes small screws.
Climbing the first pitch. Fun mixed terrain! Photo by Lucas Toron
Pulling the crux. Photo by Lucas Toron
Lucas on the upper part of pitch 1. Photo by Max Fisher
Pitch 2 WI3 60m - Fun thin climbing.
Coming up pitch 2. Photo by Lucas Toron
Pitch 3 WI3+ 50m - Climb easy terrain to base of pillar (you can belay here if you want) or climb up 5m to a more protected position.
Lucas coming up the 3rd pitch with our fisherman spectators... they watched us all day and where fishing too no doubt! Photo by Max Fisher
Climbing... it's fun! Photo by Max Fisher

Pitch 4 WI5- 30m - Depending where you climb the difficulty could go up. Awesome chandelier/hollow/ funky formed ice to the top. Awesome exposure in a surreal setting!
Lucas climbing the money on pitch 4. Photo by Max Fisher
Topping out the route. Photo by Lucas Toron
Torres Del Paine Nation Park from Rio Serrano/Rio Balmecada confluence. Photo by Max Fisher
The wind only slightly impacts the vegetation in Magallanic, Patagonia! Photo by Max Fisher
Thanks to all my students and co-instructors in Patagonia for a great trip! To Erik Bonnett for the letting us hang out at his place and climbing in Yosemite! Red Rocks for being there and the Westfalia for well, doing what they do :) Ashlie for the wonderful company and going climbing and drinking lots of Mate with me!

And Lucas for, what I feel is, the coolest climb I've done in the Maritimes to date!